Utah Jazz: All Four Jazz Players Left out of All-Star Game, One Major Mistake

Zac WatneCorrespondent IIFebruary 10, 2012

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz had four players placed on the 2012 NBA All-Star game ballot, though all of them will be watching the game from the comfort of their own homes.

Two players from the Jazz’s formidable frontcourt, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, seemed like they may have a legitimate shot at representing the Western Conference in Orlando, FL, but the fans and coaches that filled out the rosters felt otherwise.

Forward Derrick Favors was a long shot given his limited time on the court, while point guard Devin Harris’s chance of playing in the All-Star game was a “snowball’s chance in hell” with the season he has had thus far.

Of the five spots on the Western Conference starting roster, two cities and three franchises are represented, with Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant representing the Los Angeles Lakers and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin represent the Los Angeles Clippers. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durrant will complete the starting five.

The number of overall votes that fans submit determines the starters for each conference. With Salt Lake City being one of the smallest markets in the league, it was not a surprise that Utah’s players were not voted into the starting lineup by fans.

The reserve squads, who are voted in by coaches around the league (though coaches cannot vote for their own players), should be based on performance during a given season. Though all of the players who will be representing the West have done well this season, it seems as though Dirk Nowitzki was rewarded for previous accolades rather than his accomplishments on the court this season.

Simply put, Paul Millsap should be in the All-Star game, not Nowitzki.

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Compared to Nowitzki, Millsap is averaging more rebounds per game (9.7 vs. 6.2), steals (1.4 vs. 0.8), blocks (0.8 vs 0.5), and is shooting a higher field-goal percentage (52.3 percent vs. 46.1 percent). Nowitzki is averaging 1.1 more points per game (17.6 vs. 16.5), but Millsap is even shooting better from behind the arc than Nowitzki (30.8 percent vs. 21.1 percent).

Further, Millsap’s player efficiency rating of 24.28 is well above Nowitzki’s (19.28), another indicator that overall he has been more productive this year.

With his recent NBA Championship banner still waiving from having been recently raised in the American Airlines Center, I imagine missing the All-Star game would not be a big issue for Nowitzki. He may even appreciate the extra rest.

On the other hand, this would have been the first All-Star appearance for Millsap, and though he would never complain about not being selected, it would have meant more to him (and his franchise) than Nowitzki’s selection.

As I have argued elsewhere, the NBA needs to looks at events like the All-Star game, and the various skills competitions that accompany it, as marketing opportunities. The coaches should know that, and if they don’t currently they should be informed quickly.

The lack of equal revenue coming in around the league is partially what caused the 149-day lockout this past summer and should be in the back of everyone’s minds looking into the future.

Giving a small market, like Utah, an opportunity to have someone represent them in the All-Star game would help, if even marginally, with the major issue of revenue distribution.

This was a missed opportunity for the NBA, and the coaches failed to vote based on this current season only and not previous accomplishments.